New York City’s three library systems — New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library — will no longer be charging late fines on books and other circulating materials, eliminating a barrier to access and ensuring that all New Yorkers, especially those in low income neighborhoods, have free and open access to knowledge and opportunity. All prior late fees from patron accounts have been cleared allowing New Yorkers a clean slate. Combined, this is the biggest system in the country to eliminate fines.
In an effort to welcome patrons back, or to libraries for the first time, NYPL, BPL and QPL will be hosting a week of giveaways and special programs at all branch locations beginning on Monday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 23. During that week, New Yorkers are encouraged to stop by, reconnect with their local libraries, check out materials, and return anything they may have at home — fine free. For info about NYPL’s welcome back events click here.
While the details are slightly different per system, generally, the new fine-free policies are:
- New Yorkers of all ages will no longer need to pay any late fees on overdue materials.
- In the past, library cards were blocked if they accrued $15 or more in fines; that will no longer be the case.
- New Yorkers will still need to pay replacement fees if they lose materials. Materials are considered lost after being overdue for about one month. If materials are returned, however, no fees will apply.
- Cards will be blocked from borrowing additional physical materials if patrons accrue replacement fees (thresholds differ per system); note that even with a block on their cards, patrons can still access computers, e-books, and other digital services.
For more information go to the individual systems websites: nypl.org, bklynlibrary.org, and queenslibrary.org.
For much more information including the impact eliminating fines has had on other systems around the country, you can check out the full press release here.
Below are some borough-specific stats. Patrons with fines (total number and percentage of all cardholders in the borough)
- Bronx 130,000, 31%
- Manhattan 205,000, 25%
- Staten Island, 30,000, 30%
“Blocked” patrons total and percentage of all cardholders in the borough:
- Bronx 67,000, 16%
- Manhattan 64,000, 8%
- Staten Island 13,000, 13%
Below are the branches citywide with the highest percentage of blocked cards:
- Stone Avenue (East New York), Brooklyn–24%
- Morrisania, Bronx–22.5%
- Baisley Park, Queens–20.2%
- Arverne, Queens–19.98%
- Sedgwick, Bronx–19.9%
- Tremont, Bronx–19.8%
- Far Rockaway, Queens–19.39%
- 125th Street, Manhattan–19.1%
- South Jamaica, Queens–18.96%
- New Lots, Brooklyn–18.8%